News August 31, 2020

Triller could be the new owner of TikTok in Australia with $20b bid

Triller could be the new owner of TikTok in Australia with $20b bid

Los Angeles-based social short-form video service could be the new owner of its bigger Chinese rival .

The celebrity-owned service, which claims 50 million users, launched a US$20 billion buy-out bid on the weekend, said Bloomberg.

It has backing from London-based investment firm Centricus Asset Management which has a global portfolio worth $27 billion.

The deal would see Triller acquire TikTok’s assets in Australia, the US, New Zealand and India.

Mike Lu, CEO of the Los Angeles based Triller, said he believes the “two teams can work alongside each other and create the best short form video platform. 

“Triller would be the best home for all of TikTok’s users as we have always put product and users first. This is the beginning of a new chapter.”

There was initial confusion when US TikTok execs said they had no knowledge of the bid.

“What’s Triller?” said one tongue-in-cheek, while another called the deal “preposterous”, before Triller explained that the proposal was made to the app’s parent Bytedance in Beijing.

The proposal is comprised of $10 billon in cash upfront and a further $10 billion in shared profit.

It comes in the latest twist in the TikTok sell-off, required to take place in the US by September 20 according to an Executive Order from President Trump.

Incidentally Trump is a Triller fan and opened an account with it in early August.

Financial analysts expect TikTok to change hands for between $35 billion and $40 billion.

Late last week, supermarket chain Walmart joined the Microsoft consortium.

Walmart, the largest retailer in the world with a $24.5 billion turnover in 2019, has been expanding into the digital space and has its own streaming service.

The deal could give it 100 million extra customers (the number of TikTok’s American users) and also its data for better research.

Microsoft, with a market value of $1.7 trillion and $137 billion in cash, is the largest bidder

Microsoft’s bid also covers Australia.

Another contender, enterprise software giant Oracle, has a market value of $175 billion and $43 billion in cash. and  likely to use the app’s data and social  interaction for its own clients,

Twitter and Netflix showed early interest but Google maintained it had no interest.

Earlier this month, Triller co-owner Ryan Kavanaugh dismissed the Microsoft deal in the US as “impossible” in Rolling Stone.

His contention was that with TikTok technology based in China, “There is no possible way that Microsoft could guarantee that whatever Chinese spyware has been embedded into TikTok isn’t still there, even after they transition it — it would take somewhere between two and five years for them to even find it.”

He added the only way for it to work was for Microsoft to just buy the name and goodwill and brand the name on a similar-featured app.

TikTok’s CEO Kevin Mayer departed the business last week, replaced in the interim by Aussie Vanessa Pappas.

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